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With Anti-Asian Discrimination on the Rise, Biden Plays into Trump’s Anti-China Rhetoric

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) Legislative Conference at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa. Date: 18 January 2020, 09:19 Source: Joe Biden Author: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America

“These things are happening daily — it’s getting a lot more dangerous,” Eddie Song told NBC News after he and his wife were told by a man that Asians caused coronavirus.

With the competition out of the way, the Biden campaign has turned its focus to Trump’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic. As COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese government has faced immense scrutiny for its delayed response to the virus and suppression of whistleblowers attempting to alert officials to its deadliness.

And President Trump has pounced on anti-China rhetoric often referring to the coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus’. Trump has oscillated between harsh words against China and cooling rapprochement towards President Xi Jinping.

All the while, America is seeing an uptick in hate crimes against Asians. New York City has seen a swell to 105 anti-Asian harassment and discrimination claims since February, up from 5 in the same period last year.

In a recently released ad, Biden attacks Trump for being too soft on China and that he “rolled over for the Chinese”. The video is accompanied by ominous music, giving the impression that Biden is beating the war drums against China.

Considering the president has been eager to blame China, how much does this play into Trump’s hand? And do Biden’s claims about the need for American scientists on the ground hold up?

The Blame Game

President Trump has repeatedly used China as a source of blame for the coronavirus pandemic, but as mentioned in Biden’s ad, the viciousness of the attacks have sometimes been swapped out for words of support for China.

While the Chinese government did initially hold back information about the severity of COVID-19, but the danger of the virus has been long known.

In the Biden ad, video from a February 25th Democratic debate shows Biden said, “I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country.” But, human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 was confirmed by the CDC on January 30, the same day the WHO declared a global health emergency.

Despite a lack of American scientists on the ground, the high death tolls and danger of coronavirus were evident to world leaders by February 25th.

In the ad, Trump’s travel ban against China is also lambasted for not being stringent enough. However, Trump’s laser focus on travel from China left the United States open to travelers from all over the world, including Europe. In New York, America’s coronavirus epicenter, most cases can be traced back to Europe.

By trying to be more hawkish on China, Biden plays into Trump’s hand and cedes that China is largely to blame rather than shifting the focus to the United States’s lack of preparedness.

Fueling Racism

President Trump has long given voice to anti-China sentiment including starting a trade war and a decades-long grudge with Japan. Asian-American former Washington Governor Gary Locke accused Trump of “fanning hatred” in one of the President’s anti-Biden ads.

The Biden campaign walked directly into this trap as well with his response ad with Chinese flags flying and often failing to distinguish between ‘China’ and the Chinese government.

In NYC Human Rights had to create a task force to keep track of the uptick of coronavirus-related hate crimes. Asian-Americans and activists have been pleading for the federal government to do more to stop the rise in anti-Asian racism.

“These things are happening daily — it’s getting a lot more dangerous,” Eddie Song told NBC News after he and his wife were told by a man that Asians caused coronavirus.

While Trump is calling for civil insurrection, the Democratic Party has thus far failed to provide much opposition. And with the current state of the 2020 election, the Democratic candidate has already ceded him one of his biggest desires – China-bashing.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

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